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I need my kids in worship with me

First he glared at me. Then he puffed, “I hate church. I don’t want to go.

When we told Paul, my 10 year old, that the regular parts of kids ministry were taking the day off and church would have family worship on Sunday, Paul protested.

Stupid. Boring. I hate this, I hate you, I hate church, I hate…

Some people are blessed with compliant children who go with the flow. I am blessed with children who are exactly like me.

When I was Paul’s age we were just starting to go to church. I really liked Sunday School class. I loved seeing friends from school and getting to know new kids. And the fellowship time before church started was magical. Free donuts and free reign to run around the church.

But I hated the worship service. HATED IT. I wore my clip-on tie, I I sat there, I complied… barely.

Each service started with me red face and getting more angry. I don’t know what I was angry at. My dad for taking me? The church and it’s old people music? The fact that I had to sit there? Was I mad at God? I don’t remember. I guess I was mad at everything.

But I do remember that by the end of the service I wasn’t angry anymore. Despite my best efforts to hate the entire thing, something drew me in and calmed me down.

I hated go to the worship service. But I hated leaving when it was over, too.

There was something “other” about church that drew me in. By the middle of my 5th grade year I started working the sound booth to record the messages on cassette tape with my friend Cory. Getting “a job” hooked me in.

I had a place which changed things for me, even for just a morning, and having something adult to do gave me a real place in the church to belong.

So seeing Paul sulk in his seat last Sunday didn’t bother me at all. It was looking back 25 years. And, if I’m honest, it was looking at 10 year olds through the ages. Pissed off at being there, angry at everything for making them sit in a pew, but discovering that something mystical happens when the congregation comes together to worship.

Every 10 year old boy is a little like Huck Finn. And asking Huck to sit still for an hour isn’t going to be awesome. But that doesn’t mean Huck isn’t changed by the experience, does it?

But, putting on my dad hat for a minute, there was a new experience tied to this worth noting. 

  1. Having Megan and Paul there forced me into dad-mode and out of Adam-mode. Adam-mode has a hard time concentrating in church… to put it lightly. Adam-mode has a mind that wanders somewhere between being in the church service and his todo list. It’s not uncommon that blog posts get written while someone preaches about something.
  2. I was very aware that I was modeling behavior to Megan and Paul.
  3. So I had to sing the worship songs.
  4. So I had to listen to the announcements.
  5. So I had to have my head up, paying attention for the message. (Which was a drama.. and a pretty good one at that.)
  6. Beyond all of that, there was a feeling of togetherness that we just don’t get anywhere else. Maybe that’s a reflection of something poor on me as a dad. But there really is “something” important about being together every once in a while to worship.

See, having my kids in worship wasn’t just good for them, it was good for me.

When we go back this weekend, they’ll go to their thing and I’ll go to mine. It’s probably better that way week-to-week for all of us.

But I am going to miss them in the worship service.

By Adam McLane

Adam McLane is a partner at The Youth Cartel, co-author of A Parent's Guide to Understanding Social Media, blogger of 10+ years, and a fan of all things San Diego State University Aztecs.

6 replies on “I need my kids in worship with me”

Such a great post. In my previous ministry role, I actively tried to help parents understand the importance of intergenerational worship experiences, with only a few “wins”.

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Amen! As a children’s pastor I feel that it is so important for families to worship together! There is so much to be gained from it! Thank you for sharing.

Good conversation. At the beginning of the school year, one of the greatest launch points for children’s ministry, our church implemented every other week worship in the sanctuary and every other week Kidz Worship for our elementary aged kids. This allows parents to shoulder the load teaching their kids how to worship as a family and allows the kids to have their space as well. This has been a great transition for our families as we continue to lead them in discipling their kids. Thanks for the post.

Gee…do we live the same parallel lives? Having my middle schooler in worship with me is a new thing for my husband and I now that we are at Mars. @ SMCC that never happened…and it would have been really boring for him because it was difficult enough for me. But we love Mars! I wrote about this change over on my blog about a month ago and how “sticky faith” moments are happening because of it.

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